After our first 6 months of road life, we compiled a list of our favorite eats & drinks from the road. Several months have passed since then and we have been drinking our way across the country, but neglectful in compiling a list of some of our favorite watering holes along the way. We previously posted the second installment of our favorite road eats, and this is the companion piece on our favorite road drinks (part deux!)!
Listed in order based on chronology from February 2018 thru October 2018:
Red Light Special in the French Quarter:
Dark, claustrophobic, and featuring a definite bondage & torture theme, the Dungeon in New Orleans, LA was a fun, hole-in-the-alley, space to grab a drink. Taking photos inside is frowned upon, because, what happens at the Dungeon was intended to stay at the Dungeon. A narrow alley ablaze in red light guides to a small courtyard and the entrance to the Dungeon. Featuring drink specials, local beers, and craft cocktails, this was a fun divvy gem both in the heart of the French Quarter but also nestled off the grid from some of the overly crowded spots in the area.
Open Air Music:
Live music is the pulse that beats throughout New Orleans, LA. Rare Form on Frenchmen Street is in the heart of the Frenchmen St. music corridor and was one of our favorite spots for live music. With a large, open-air, patio, Rare Form was a welcome evening respite from a long day of walking the city. Sipping cocktails under the stars, enjoying the night breeze, and taking in some of NOLAs live music scene was a great way to cap off the day.
New Orleans, LA northshore area is nestled across Lake Pontchartrain, composed of several close-knit communities offering small town charm and a relaxed pace. Taking its name from nearby Abita Springs, the Abita Tap Room in Covington, LA is a great little spot to play some adult-sized Jenga, relax in their large outdoor space, and sample their bouquet of beers, like local favorites, Purple Haze and Big Easy IPA
Hot Springs/ Cold Beer:
Another little brewery that we really enjoyed along our travels is nestled in Hot Springs, AR. Occupying one of the historic bathhouses on “bathhouse row”, the Superior Bathhouse Brewery was a fun little discovery and is the first brewery to be located inside a U.S. National Park. Experimenting with new flavors, such as aging beers in former bourbon barrels and infusing beers with local ingredients and thermal spring water, Superior had a vast and impressive offering. Most of which, we were able to sample thanks to their “beer bath” paddle flight, featuring 18 different samples for $30.00.
Bourbon Country Bliss:
As we passed through Kentucky and the heart of bourbon country in and around Bardstown, KY, we were fortunate to visit some of the local distilleries, including one of our standing favorites, Bulleit, and we have since added to our Kentucky favorites! It was along our bourbon trail samplings that we were introduced to and loved the bourbon from Willett Distillery. We particularly favored their Willett Pot Still Reserve, which comes in a bottle designed to model their signature pot still machine. A smooth, almost sweet, bourbon that gives you a warm “Kentucky hug”.
We had one day in Louisville, KY, and after dinner, did a little hunt to find a spot for a drink within walking distance of downtown. With only a few cryptic reviews, we happened upon a new speakeasy that hadn’t “officially” opened to the public yet. Having just completed a soft-opening the week prior, we were just in time to check it out before the masses. We followed the clues and came to a small, brightly lit, and overly decorated entrance room that appeared to be a museum of Louisville artifacts. In the corner, next to a door, sat an attendant on a stool who grants you admission to the underground cocktail lounge below that is Hell or High Water. While the entryway is disarmingly bright, the lounge itself is dimly lit with warm chandeliers and table votives and plush velvet interiors. All around, you are teased with romance and the appeal of all things Great Gatsby. Servers dressed in Prohibition-era outfitting, but resembling Clockwork Orange meets runway, whisk around fancy cocktails in quick order. With little alcoves and nooks to explore and an extensive menu of cocktails at reasonable prices, we really enjoyed the warmth and welcoming vibes- and of course the cocktails!
In agreement with its name, Magic Hat Brewery is an adult wonderland for beer. Brewing-up several different award-winning varieties and a selection of nibblers. Magic Hat was a great little spot removed from downtown Burlington in the neighboring town of South Burlington, VT. With the option to do either a guided or self-guided tour of the brewery, you can wander amongst colorful memorabilia, choose to watch a short cartoon video on the brewery, and finish with a bird’s eye view of the beer making action itself. The owner, frequently on-site, walks amongst the patrons without giving away who he is (unless you paid attention to featured photos from the tour). He is very friendly and chats with his patrons, frequently delving out free samples of new brews to get feedback.
Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery in Brattleboro, VT. Perched along the Connecticut River with a second story open-air bar and deck, you can enjoy an assortment of both Whetstone crafted and other featured brews and grab a bite. We happened by here on a sunny day and fully enjoyed the open-air space and views of the river and neighboring New Hampshire across the way. In fact, with the construction of a new bridge came an extension to the Vermont shoreline onto what had been formerly been New Hampshire territory, deeming this brewery unofficially “interstate”.
No Need for Benjamins:
While wandering Portland, ME, we came across reviews for a speakeasy bar called Lincolns. Faithful patrons safeguard the scavenger hunt effect by providing only cryptic clues to the entrance, without giving it away. Owners of the bar keep the fun alive for newcomers by frequently changing the painted signs outside and the hidden entrance so that when reviewers get too specific in their clues, people are thrown off by relying on outdated landmarks. What I will tell you is that the entrance looks like the landing for a small apartment flat, proceeding past this, it is located down in a landing that comes after the stairwell with a mirror (which is a two-way mirror so that people inside the bar can watch you trying to figure out where to go). As we entered the small landing for the entry door, the music was our clue, as we knew we had to have the right spot by the pumping beats. Inside, you will find a small, unassuming, darkly lit bar with a cash-only policy. Abraham Lincoln is the decor and the payment plan, as everything the bar serves up will only cost you a Lincoln.
Situated under the bleachers at Fenway Park in Boston, MA is a lively sports bar called the Bleacher Bar. While the bar is located under the stadium, it is outside the gated entrance to the ballpark, so folks without game tickets can get in an enjoy views of the country’s oldest ball field through a central garage window. We stopped here before a game and it was a great spot to get grab a drink and get amped up. This spot gets packed, especially on game days, so come early.
A Little Bit Street Art, A Little Bit Dump Yard, A Lotta Bit Fun
The Tattooed Mom in Philadelphia, PA is a fun two-story bar with no inch of unused wall space. The downstairs feels like a trashy chic anime hangout, but it was the upstairs, with its graffitied walls plastered with posters, pictures, newspaper clippings, and just about anything else, that captivated us. This urban space is a fun divvy watering hole that looks skate park, without the skaters. Seating is scattered in little nooks throughout, including a de-funked bumper car. And of course, a pool table is centrally featured.
Community Hall Brews:
The Ballad Brewery in Danville, VA is a large urban space with a clean nautical decor and large beer hall style tables. With an impressive selection of beers and hosting various community events, like yoga & beer, and trivia nights, we came by during one of their weekly trivia gatherings to test our beer brains and check out the large, inviting, space.
Repurposed & Revitalized:
Occupying an old mechanic’s garage, the Motorco’s Garage Bar and Parts & Labor Restaurant in Durham, NC is a great indoor/outdoor gathering space for drinks and creative quick bites. With more outdoor seating than inside, large tables line the patio next to corn hole courts, all lit overhead with Edison bulbs. Featuring lots of local beers, cocktails, wine, and inventive snacks, like: poutine, latkes, and pupusas. Next to the bar, and under the same ownership, is the Motorco Music Hall, an intimate venue for local and traveling musicians.
Brewery Beer Garden:
We were fortunate to be in Charlotte, NC during an anniversary block party for Sycamore Brewing. This industrial brewery complex occupies a huge space on the edge of downtown with a large outdoor beer garden. During their block party celebration, we were able to sample an array of their beers, which included lots of seasonal flavors, and relax under the stars to live music. A great little spot to relax and kick-back in Charlotte.
Arts District Stand-Out:
Asheville, NC has a riverside arts district composed of re-purposed warehouses speckled with artist workshops, cafes, eateries, and a fantastic brewery called the Wedge Brewing Company. The bar area inside is small and intended more as simply a pick-up point for your selection- we highly recommend the ginger sour beer if it is in rotation! The outdoor space is large, covering a lawn section, covered side patio, and a covered galley way area. Individually designed metal & cement furniture adorn the galley way and patio giving the space a fun steampunk vibe. Beers come with complimentary bowls of shelled peanuts, and a rotating line-up of food trucks and musicians also grace the space, making this the perfect all-in-one gathering place for brews and views.
The last spot on our chronology tour through October 2018 was also our first indication that North Carolina has a long-standing and strange law about bars- bars that do not sell food are required to be “members only” establishments. Fortunately, workarounds are easy, like a mere $1 fee for an annual membership, or allowing members (a.k.a, that stranger sitting down the bar) to be allowed a certain number of “guests”. The Cascade Lounge is a friendly little neighborhood bar in Asheville, NC that occupies one portion of a small house-like complex. Sharing the property is a cafe and both establishments have a symbiotic relationship and an open door policy to the others’ services. They also both share a large garden space with outdoor games and a fire pit. The lounge itself is laid out around a square bar and is frequented by friendly locals and easy vibes and stocked with games.